The Flack

For weary McCain staffers, the campaign is not over. Now comes the after-campaign, the period following a high profile loss when each failure is hashed and rehashed in the press and everyone with a score to settle goes on background with reporters to settle them. Did McCain attack too little or not enough? Was the choice of Palin a success or a disaster? Why didn't McCain respond better to the fiscal crisis?

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The battle to define Tuesday's expected outcome has begun. As if on cue, Craig Shirley and Tony Fabrizio have an op-ed over at Politico, claiming "Millions of Americans have come to erroneously see Bush as a conservative when nothing could be further from the truth.  This election will more accurately be a referendum on Bush's 'Big Government Republicanism,' and not Reagan conservatism, not our conservatism."

Claim The Mandate

Here are two predictions: On Tuesday night Barack Obama will be elected President, and on Wednesday, if not before, Republicans will argue that his victory didn't mean anything -- that America remains a center-right nation and that Senator Obama's victory was not a referendum on conservative principles. How Democrats respond to this spin will be critical in shaping Barack Obama's first two years in office.  Much of his agenda will hang in the balance.  Democrats must claim the mandate that the public is about to bestow on our party in order to bring about the real change that Senator Obama ran

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Money Well Spent

Let's quickly dispense with the silly spin from the McCain campaign and the notion that Senator Obama's infomercial might somehow be overkill or extravagant--there isn't a campaign anywhere that wouldn't want to be able to afford thirty minutes of network time a week before the election to make a final pitch to undecided voters.

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The End Of Nixonland

Rick Perlstein's Nixonland brilliantly covers a period that is finally coming to an end. Perlstein's book focuses on Richard Nixon's runs for the White House, beginning in 1966.  Democrats, facing a voter backlash over rioting, crime, and the Vietnam War lost 47 House seats in 1966.  Nixon rode that revolt into the White House two years later and exploited it while in office to win re-election in a landslide in 1972.  Perlstein correctly states that Nixon came "to power by using the anger, anxieties, and resentments produced by the cultural chaos of the 1960s," and defines Nixonland as the st

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Does advertising matter?  Just ask the Obama campaign. A Washington Post article yesterday suggested both that John McCain's negative ads had been ineffective (true) and that advertising in the Presidential contest just wasn't all that important: "As the presidential candidates open their war chests in the campaign's final stretch -- spending a combined $28 million on television ads in the week that ended Oct. 4 -- political pros are mixed on whether they're getting their money's worth.

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The economic crisis dealt the McCain campaign a fatal body blow. None the less, the choices that Senator McCain has made during this race will impact the margin of his defeat and the fortunes of other Republicans on the ballot. Today it's worth considering what Senator McCain could have done differently.  The usual caveats about hindsight apply.1) Avoid Faustian Bargains. Campaigns don't begin on announcement day and Senator McCain's most fateful decision predated his.

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On Monday I argued that the McCain campaign's strategy of using Bill Ayers to attack Barack Obama would not work because the economic crisis trumped all.  Today, the McCain campaign has tried to link Obama's association with Ayers to the economic crisis in a new ad. Will it work? No. The ad is practically schizophrenic.  The first third attacks Obama's "blind ambition" for "working with Ayers."  The remaining two-thirds is about the housing crisis and an attack on "Congressional liberals" for letting it happen. The connection between Ayers and the housing crisis?  Who knows?  The ad makes no e

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Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain.  The race is over. John McCain's candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain's collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand.

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"Live from St. Louis, it's Thursday night!" Gov. Sarah Palin isn't likely to open the debate that way, but the public could be excused if they expected her to.  After all, in the last week we have seen more of Tina Fey's "Saturday Night Live" imitation of Sarah Palin than we have of the Governor herself. That will finally change, when Gov. Palin steps out on the big stage and debates Sen. Joe Biden.What must Gov. Palin do to make Americans forget Fey's send-up and demonstrate she is ready to lead? What must Sen.

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